1. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    In POV Hell!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by iabanon, Dec 19, 2011.

    For some time now I have had problems with POV for ONE of my novels. I don't have this problem with any other project, but this one is driving me nuts! Some parts I have written in First person present tense and others in Third person past. The problem is certain parts work better in first and others work better in third. In first I can use the consciousness of the main character to convey a sense of urgency and humour and really give the story a voice. On the other hand if I write in third I can write more descriptively and give other characters the occassional voice. There are two main characters, but one is only slightly secondary to the main. It is a comedy/crime caper series. I have tried writing parts in the opposing POV, but they don't work as well. I really want to have both, but I know a lot of people will say that's a big 'No-No'. I'm not sure anyone can help me out here, but maybe if I voice this issue and whinge a bit it might come to me. Or maybe some of you have had the same problem. Pulling my hair out here. I guess I'm trying to make the jokes work best. Some work best from a distance as observation and others work best from MC POV. Maybe I have to lose some good writing to decide. That is REALLY effing hard on this one.
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know what advice you are going to get from us, I expect. Follow if you want to master basics and increase chance of getting published as an unknown.

    a) Write in one tense throughout the novel. Usually past for past narrative is the most logical solution and most reader-friendly.
    b) Write in third person limited, not 1st, and certainly not a mixture of both, unless you do a 'letter/journal/listening to tape trick' or something.
    c) Use only one POV per 'scene'. You can always do a line break and show from another's POV--you don't have to have one POV only throughout the entire novel.
    d) Where you want to show conflicting ideas, etc, and/or have a crowd of characters together in a scene make use of dialogue and action, not internal thought.

    Of course, not every writer does this--but it takes a really exceptional writer to pull it off. Maybe that's you, I really don't know...
     
  3. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    yeah i know the difference. and yes parts are more omniscient. not limited. i've NOT written the book in two viewpoints because that's what i plan to do, rather as i was developing it i just wrote what came to me and i figured whichever style worked best would rule in the end. most of my favourite pieces in this work are first person. it's more casual, which suits my voice, and funnier and since it's meant to be a comedy of sorts.....but then i have the secondary main character and i wonder if her voice should be represented. all my other writing is third person omniscient. but this one needs more attitude. more spunk. more funny. i'm just struggling with a decision.
     
  4. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    been researching and found this in wikipedia. think i'll check out some of these books listed below. see if anything clicks with me. maybe i should take up a challenge! :cool:

    Alternating POV.
    While the general rule is for novels to adopt a single approach to point of view throughout, there are exceptions. Many stories, especially in literature, alternate between the first and third person. In this case, an author will move back and forth between a more omniscient third-person narrator to a more personal first-person narrator. The Harry Potter series is told in third person limited for much of the seven novels, but deviates to omniscient in that it switches the limited view to other characters from time to time, rather than only the protagonist. However, like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, a switch of viewpoint is done only at chapter boundaries. Omniscient point of view is also referred to as alternating point of view, because the story sometimes alternates between characters. Often, a narrator using the first person will try to be more objective by also employing the third person for important action scenes, especially those in which he/she is not directly involved or in scenes where he/she is not present to have viewed the events in first person. This mode is found in the novel The Poisonwood Bible.
    Epistolary novels, which were very common in the early years of the novel, generally consist of a series of letters written by different characters, and necessarily switching when the writer changes; the classic books Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dracula by Abraham "Bram" Stoker and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde take this approach. Sometimes, though, they may all be letters from one character, such as C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters and Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island switches between third and first person, as do Charles Dickens's Bleak House and Vladimir Nabokov's The Gift. Many of William Faulkner's take a series of first-person points of view. E.L. Konigsburg's novella The View from Saturday uses flashbacks to alternate between third person and first person throughout the book; as does Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome. After the First Death, by Robert Cormier, a novel about a fictional school bus hijacking in the late seventies, also switches from first to third person narrative using different characters. The novel The Death of Artemio Cruz, by Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, switches between the three persons from one chapter to the next, even though all refer to the same protagonist. The novel Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina GarcĂ­a, alternates between third person limited and first person depending on the generation of the speaker; the grandchildren recount events in first person while the parents and grandparent are shown in third person limited.
     
  5. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    I think I might write some scenes in both POV's and post them up in review. Maybe then people can see what I'm troubled with and maybe I might have to go with popular opinion. Though I've never been one for popularity.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you sure you're not confusing multiple third person limited with omniscient? Because if you use omniscient there is no need to switch betwee characters (as in writing from more than one perspective) since the narrator knows everything.
     
  7. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I have some thoughts.

    Firstly, there are no rules for writing, just good ideas. Yes, it's generally a good idea to stick to one POV style throughout your story - does not mean you absolutely have to. (I've seen a series of mystery novels, can't remember the name, where the protagonist's point of view was depicted in 1st person, but the author often shifted to the 3rd person point of view of other characters when the protagonist wasn't present.)

    Secondly, limited 3rd person can be used in exactly the same way as 1st person. I've seen some 3rd person perspective stories which literally could have been written by taking a 1st person story and changing the pronouns and nothing else. You can get into a character's head as much or as little as you want in limited 3rd person - it's only omniscient 3rd person that has to stay out of people's heads.

    The one thing I suggest if you do switch POV styles is that you always have at least a line break between the two styles, if not an entire chapter break. It's less confusing that way.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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  9. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I'm not.

    I'd like to sell my books, but I'm writing them because they're fun to write. I'm not writing to appeal to a market, I'm writing the kinds of books I would most like to read. If no one wants to publish them, that's their loss.
     
  10. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    thanks guys, i've been going through some novels on my shelves that have styles complimentary to this project and my voice and i think i'll revisit the Harry Potter series with that third person limited pov. see if anything sticks. i was in the throes of despair yesterday, but feeling slightly more chipper this morning.
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even if you never try to publish anything, don't you want your work to be fun to read? Why limit your efforts to an audience of one (yourself)? Writing is a form of communication in the end, surely, not therapy?
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    There seems to be some confusion here between PoV and narrative focus. They are closely linked, true, but they're not the same thing. "using close viewpoints by 'zooming' in and out a lot" is more to do with narrative focus than PoV which can remain omniscient. That's why I get puzzled by the suggestion that omniscient is frowned on but might be coming back, because I never saw it go away. What does seem to have changed is a lot more attention to narrative focus within the omniscient PoV, something I first became aware of with Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
     

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